Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coming soon

I've been commissioned to revamp quarterrat.com, look for it in a few days. Humor, stories and links to all of the great spots in New Orleans from the point of view of locals.

A few problems with my Mac, I had to up grade the OS from Jaguar to Tiger and that put me behind deadline. Once it's up on line you will be able to purchase quite probably the the funniest book of the year.

The publisher has been dropping off copies all over the French Quarter. At one location two copies were instantly bought by the store's employees. A tourist couple watching the employees flipping pages and laughing out loud inquired "What do you have there?"  The seasoned service industry workers responded "A book that makes fun of you guys." The elderly tourists from the Midwest asked to see a copy, examined the the front cover and read the introduction. They handed the publisher $20 and said "We'll take one."

Three copies of "Bourbon Street and Beyond" sold in as many minutes.  If we continue to sell one copy per minute, I will be able to pay off all of my outstanding stripper debt in 11 days, 14 hours and 9 minutes.

Locals can find copies throughout the French Quarter and along major parade routes. Give me a few days to get the new web site up and running and the rest of the world can enjoy The Quarter Rat.

"We're Everywhere"

Monday, February 21, 2011


A year ago when I was deciding to move from New Jersey to New Orleans the toughest element of the decision was leaving my 90 year old mother in her nursing home.  Being the youngest of three boys I was always her baby. We lived together for many years and over the course of my life I had gone from being taken care of to being the care giver. After she was admitted to the nursing home six years ago,  I would bring her her coffee and cigarettes with an hour of time twice a week. Eventually just once a week.

She surprised the doctors and family by her resilience to strokes, falls and Alzheimer's. Seventy eight years of smoking hadn't even slowed her down. In fact, going outside a few times a day to have a Marlboro was the highlight of her day in an otherwise bleak existence.  Imagine a very bundled up Ruth Gorden outside in a wheelchair slinging profanities as she attempted to light her next smoke in the wind.

I recent months her health has declined sharply and it looks like she soon will be leaving us. So the final posts of my year long blog about my move down here will probably be a lot of my memories of her. Bare with me during my grieving period. To be honest, the grieving period started years ago as her mind started to fragment like an old hard drive. Dying are the ninety years of memories from an incredible and fascinating life of a strong, bright and independent woman.

Recently my friend Robert introduced me to the film "Curious Case Of Benjamin Buttons" Uncanny timing.  The film has allowed me to deal with emotions and feelings that I would've done my best to avoid with self medication and distractions of daily existence. I have loved ones in NJ, my mother whose life is coming to an end, and a fourteen year old daughter whose life is just beginning.  This is the first time in the past year, I wish I was there.

Wait until I tell you about Audrey, you guys will love her.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Putting a face on Mardi Gras

If I had to describe Mardi Gras to the folks back in Jersey, I'm not sure I could. The entire Gulf Coast celebrate this season with passion and reverence as the Jersey Shore does with the start of summer. Imagine Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas all with in a couple of months.  Locals are a tight group down here, all share the joys of Carnival season and the fears of hurricane season. Someone tried to explain to me how the season starts and ends each year, all depends on when Fat Tuesday falls. 

This Mardi Gras poster is by artist Peter O'Neill who has completed several Carnival themed paintings for his New Orleans gallery. Peter says he enjoys painting for his NOLA gallery. I look forward to his Facebook postings of his latest work, great stuff. Mr. O'Neill said he's going to take four weeks off after I commented on how prolific he has been in the past few weeks.  Here is his web site to view more of his work, or to order a copy of his Mardi Gras poster.

Enjoy your time off Peter.

Damn neighbors kept me up all night

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the punch line state

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York archeologists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: " California archaeologists, finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 100 years earlier than the New Yorkers." 

One week later, The Newark Star Ledger, a local newspaper in Newark, NJ reported the following:  "After digging as deep as 30 feet in his back yard, Vinnie 'The Salami' Manziano, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Vinnie has therefore concluded that 300 years ago,  New Jersey had already gone wireless."
 Just makes me proud to be from NJ.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Best of JSBE

Coming up on my one year anniversary here in New Orleans, so I'm posting another "Best Of" just to fill space. Here is one of my favorites. I had a room mate from Georgia who invited me out to a night on Bourbon Street. When a guy like Larry the cable guy want to treat you to a night of binge drinking, who could say no?


Calliope Projects, third ward, New Orleans.

I write a lot about the French Quarter and the culture in NOLA. It's a city of great diversity and adversity. Here is a local hero, C Murder.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Company

I've landed some work doing some graphic work for T shirts and print ads. The latest is this ad for club Deja Vu on Bourbon Street. Some may scoff at the themes of my artwork, I believe it's a status position. These very same street were walked over by the tiny legs of Toulouse Lautrec himself. In fact there is a Toulouse Street in the Quarter. 

He spent some time here back 18 something. Google it if you don't believe me. I can see why the dude dug this town. He made a name for himself doing show posters for The Moulin Rouge, 18th century strip clubs.

A creepy artist who falls in love with a dancer, gee how original.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Orleans Ladies

I'm at a point in life where I am actually thankful I don't have me a honey on Valentine's day. It would be just one more bill that I couldn't pay. I've been impressed by the ladies down here. I've spent my entire life around women like Snookie, suddenly I'm exposed to some true Southern Belles and am taken back. Fun, classy, able to hold their liquor till sunup and could drop kick ass while wearing heels. (Dudes, it's like a city filled with Daisy Dukes.)

New Orleans Ladies
Words and Music by Hoyt Garrick and Leon Medica

New Orleans ladies
Sassy style that will drive you crazy
And they hold you like the light
Hugs the wick when this candle's burning

Them Creole babies
Thin and brown and downright lazy
And they roll just like the river
A little wave will last forever
All the way
From Bourbon Street to Esplanade
They sashay by

New Orleans ladies
A flair for life, love and laughter
And they hold you like the night
Holds a chill when this cold wind's blowing

Them Creole babies
They strut and sway from dusk till dawn
And they roll just like a river
A little wave will last forever
All the way
From Bourbon Street to Esplanade
They sashay by

I always think of my friend "Goose" when I hear this one. You can spot a true local by their Flor De lis tattoos. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with some of the nicest women while working as a background actor.  

Unlike the Jersey girls I hung out with, not one down here has yet puked on me, thrown a punch at me or stole my wallet for coke money.  I might start dating again someday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What I learned from video games

When I came down to New Orleans a year ago, some said I didnt have a plan. I insisted I did. I lied. In hindsight I realized that I treated it as nothing more than a new game of Grand Theft Auto. Thats the only role playing video game I ever got into.

Every game starts out with basically the same character, a down on his luck new guy in town. Penniless and with few contacts the anti hero climbs his way to the top on wits and guts. Dropped off in the lowest rent district of a large city with a cast of characters to be met, some allies, some enemies. Its a game about hustling your way to the top using what you got available. How does the game end? You kicking back in a mansion full of toys, respected by everyone in your new city.


Vince Vance

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Bourbon Street and Beyond"

I got permission (kind of) to publish a tiny bit of the Quarter Rat book "Bourbon Street and Beyond" on line. If I had to choose one story as a favorite it would be this one. Perhaps because I have done mascot work before. One summer I had a job dressing up as a Seagull on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Jersey's version of Bourbon Street. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek at the book, it will be up on Amazon.com, and available through out the French Quarter in time for Mardi Gras.

Two Queens and a Joker
An almost love story by: Jay Slusher

When I moved to New Orleans in the mid-90s my first job was at a club famous for its 190-proof, melon-flavored drink. They’re also famous for their mascot who dressed up in a heavy fiberglass suit with a full face of Styrofoam and a helmet. Part of my job was keeping drunks from beating on him. It was nerve wracking. I had to watch the door, the floor, and him. Needless to say, I got in a lot of shit.
Back in the day we had reps from the cigarette company come out and give away free smokes to the customers and employees on weekends. We had Winston and this one girl Gretchen. She was really hot for a merchant of death, let me tell ya. We talked about going out a couple of times.

Well, this particular night the mascot guy, named Chris, decided to drop a couple of hits of acid before he got into his suit. I’m at the door talking to Gretchen when I notice a commotion outside. Gretchen is just starting to write her number down, and I see these two drag queens beating the shit out of Chris. I’m talking two six-feet-tall black guys in heels, wigs, and mini-skirts. One of them is getting in some really good shots with a fanny pack with a brick in it. (Little known fact: NOPD doesn’t consider that a weapon. A lot of homeless people carry them.)

I got the real story from the Lucky Dog guy later that night (one of my network of spies and informants).
When the queens came by Chris says, “What’s up, dudes?”
One of the queens replied, “Say what, motherfucker?”
“You heard me, sir. How are you gentlemen doing this evening?”

They go ballistic. Chris is tripping his face off. So, I push Gretchen off and run out to break up the fight. It got rough, I got hit a couple of times, but finally I got that stupid fanny pack away. I hauled off and decked both of them, and they backed off.

I haul Chris to the courtyard where he fell out in the suit, tripping hard. His helmet was all twisted around, babbling incoherently. He couldn’t get up in that suit, so I left him there, face against a keg, hallucinating like a motherfucker. Now, I’ve had some absurd moments in my life but breaking up a fight between two drag queens and a guy in a Hand-Grenade suit is definitely up there.

I get back in the bar and Gretchen and the other, not as hot cigarette rep, are gone. I ask Jimmy the bartender what happened. He says they got scared during the fight and left. Well, shit! I look down on the ground and there’s the piece of paper with her name and the first three digits of her number on it. Double shit! Of course, I never saw her again. I left Chris in the courtyard until we closed; immobilized and tripping balls. Then to add insult to injury, I hosed him down just to help me ease the pain of the phone number lost.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meet TJ

In this blog I am always glorifying the art and architecture of this incredible  city. Well, here's a YOUTUBE video that introduces you to one of the residents inside of a home. Author TJ Fisher takes us on a tour of her Bourbon Street home in this 7 minute clip.  Eccentric, eclectic and electric, I think I have a crush on her and her home.

Down in New Orleans

They got music
It's always playin'
Start in the day time,
go all through the night

When you hear that music playin'
Hear what I'm saying,
it make you feel alright

Dr John

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One of my faves

This is my twelfth month in the Big Easy and I have trouble remembering how miserable I was in Jersey. I thought I would spend this month doing a "Best of the past year" Repost some of my favorite blog entries just because I am too busy with other stuff.

Here is probably my favorite, all true.

Friday, February 4, 2011

it's a battered old suitcase

  and it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace,
And a wound that will never heal
No prima donna, the perfume is on an
Old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
And goodnight to the street sweepers,

the night watchmen flame keepers
And goodnight to Mathilda, too

Tom Traubert's Blues